Holy Orders

“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1536).

The Church calls some of its members to ordination and service within the faith community as priests and deacons. Most often this call is first recognized and encouraged by the family and the parish. As a parish we pray for and support those who are making these life-commitments of service and leadership within the Church.

“The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by a solemn prayer of consecration asking God to grant the ordinand the graces of the Holy Spirit required for his ministry. Ordination imprints an indelible sacramental character.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1597).

It is a life-choice further strengthened through programs of education and formation provided by the Paterson diocese.

“Order is a true sacrament instituted by Christ who ordained the Apostles at the Last Supper. It is administered by the laying on of hands and the key phrases of the ordination preface. Only a Bishop can validly ordain. Order is a purely ecclesiastical concern. The effect of the sacrament of order is to impart the Holy Spirit and to impress an indelible character, which permanently distinguishes those in orders from the laity.

The laity also has a part in Christ’s priesthood, but in another manner. The office of Bishop is above the priesthood (which in turn is above the diaconate) and gives special powers of consecration. To the priesthood belong the celebration of Holy Mass and the power of forgiving sins.”

"Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time…It includes three degrees of order: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate"

(CCC 1536)


Ordination to the priesthood is always a call and a gift from God. Christ reminded his Apostles that they needed to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest. Those who seek priesthood respond generously to God's call using the words of the prophet, "Here I am, send me" (Is 6:8). This call from God can be recognized and understood from the daily signs that disclose his will to those in charge of discerning the vocation of the candidate.

~from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults

Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination

In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination, the priest being ordained vows to lead other Catholics by bringing them the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), by proclaiming the Gospel, and by providing other means to holiness.

Holy Orders differs from the other sacraments because it can only be administered by a bishop. Only a bishop has the power to ordain priests. An ordinary priest cannot pass on his power to another.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is not received all at once. It is is given by degrees, in successive stages. At each stage, there is an increase in sanctifying grace and powers:

A deacon gains the power to baptize, to preach, and to administer the Eucharist.
A priest gains the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and to forgive sins.
A bishop gains the power to Confirm and to ordain.

Do you feel called to be a priest or deacon? Contact us today.

What about other Religious Orders?

Religious Orders